Immediate ceasefire needed in Georgia

12 August 2008

Immediate ceasefire needed in Georgia

SP foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel has asked Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen to outline the Netherlands' position in relation to the war between Russia and Georgia, in which Georgia's candidate membership of NATO or so-called MAP status is an important point of contention.

Harry van BommelFollowing a Georgian attack on the South Ossetian insurgents as well as the ordinary citizens of the town of Tskhinvali, the long-standing conflict has erupted into war. "The open attack on the capital of South Ossetia has been followed by Russian bombardment of Georgian civilian and military targets," said Harry van Bommel. "That is also unacceptable. The two parties must immediately agree a ceasefire." More countries are now becoming involved in the conflict, with Ukraine, for instance, announcing that it would not allow the Russian fleet into the harbour of Sebastopol."

Over the last fifteen years Georgia has turned to the West in an attempt to free itself from Russia's centuries-old influence, entering into military cooperation agreements with NATO countries. Since 2006 the country has participated in the alliance's Intensified Dialogue programme. Earlier this year Georgia applied for candidate membership of NATO – known as 'MAP status' but a decision on this was postponed.

"The Georgian plan to involve the west in its conflicts with Russia has led to disaster," said Van Bommel. "This plan must receive no further support. I want the minister to explain exactly what the military cooperation agreement with Georgia entails. A stable and peaceful Caucasus is of the utmost importance. From that point of view MAP status for Georgia is a highly unfavourable development and must be rejected. But the priority now must be a cease-fire."

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